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Aermacchi SF.260

By Wikipedia,
the free encyclopedia,

Aermacchi SF.260
Role Trainer
Light attack
Manufacturer SIAI Marchetti/Aermacchi
Designed by Stelio Frati
First flight 15 July 1964
Number built 860

The Aermacchi SF.260 is a light aircraft marketed as an aerobatics plane and a military trainer. It was designed by Stelio Frati, originally for Aviamilano, which flew the first prototype of it (then designated F.260) on July 15, 1964. Actual production was undertaken when SIAI Marchetti purchased the design soon thereafter and continued with this firm until the company was bought by Aermacchi in 1997. The military versions are popular with smaller air forces, which can also arm it for use in the close-support role.

Design and development

The design is a conventional one, featuring a low wing and tricycle undercarriage, and is often praised for its sleek lines and sporty appearance. The pilot and up to two passengers (or pilot and one student in trainer versions) are accommodated under a broad, extensively glazed canopy.

The SF.260 holds the airspeed records for aircraft in its class over the 100 km (62 mile) and 1,000 km (621 mile) closed circuits.

The aircraft was marketed in the United States in the late 1960s as the Waco Meteor, although it was in no way connected with the Waco aircraft company. Thirty SF.260EA - the most recent version - were delivered to the Italian Air Force in 2005 for a total price of €33 million ($40 million).



  • F.250 - first prototype powered by 187 kW (250 hp) Lycoming O-540-AID
  • F.260 - two prototypes powered by 194 kW (260 hp) Lycoming O-540-E4A5

SIAI Marchetti

  • SF.260 - Production version of the F.260
  • SF.260A - Initial production version. Built in small numbers.
  • SF.260M - Militarised version with strengthened airframe and improved aerodynamics
  • SF.260AM - Italian Air Force version. 33 built.
  • SF.260ML - Export version for Libya. 240 built.
  • SF.260W Warrior - Military version with weapons hardpoints
  • SF.260SW Sea Warrior - Coast patrol, fishery protection aircraft. One built.
  • SF.260B - Civilian version incorporating improvements of the SF-260M. Introduced 1974
  • SF.260C - Improved version of the SF.260B. Introduced in 1977
  • SF.260TP - Allison 250-B17D turboprop version of the SF.260C; first flown in 1980
  • SF.260D - SF.260C with uprated engine and other refinements. Introduced in 1985
  • SF.260E - Uprated SF.260D to compete for a USAF contract but later marketed to other military buyers
  • SF.260F - As above, with fuel-injected engine
  • SF.260EA - Most recent variant for Italian Air Force. 30 built

Operational history

Sri Lanka

Six SF.260TP's were delivered in 1985, to be used in the pilot training role. But were also later employed in the light attack role in the governments war against the Tamil Tigers. Two former factory demonstration aircraft were delivered in 1986 to replace lost aircraft, added by three new built aircraft in 1988. All SF.260 aircraft are based with No. 1 Flying Training Wing on the airbase SLAF Anuradhapura. The SF.260TP fleet was expanded in 1990-91 with the delivery of twelve former Myanmar SF.260W. The SF.260W fleet was withdrawn from use in 2001, being replaced by Chinese build Nanchang PT-6 aircraft. The SF.260TP fleet retired as few years later.

2 aircraft were lost in combat, listed as they follow:

  • September 13, 1990: A SLAF SF.260TP was shot down near Palay. The pilot was killed.
  • July 14, 1992: A SLAF SF.260TP was shot down by LTTE. Pilot killed.


Chad informed the United Nations that during the conflict with Libya, it had destroyed eight Libyan Air Force SF.260WL's and captured nine others besides destroying and capturing other equipment. May be as many as six former Libyan SF.260WL's were pressed in the Air Force of Chad. Additional information requested. By 1988 four SF.260W's were identified as being in service, two of them were overhauled one year later in France.

In November 2006 Libya supplied Chad with four SF.260W aircraft, including crew, due to tentions between Chad and Sudan over the Dafur area. One newly supplied SF.260W was shot down on 28 November its first mission in Chad by rebel forces, killing the crew.


Became a major customer of the SIAI Marchetti SF.260 with an order of 240 Warriors, partialy to be assembled in a new plant near Tripoli. How many SF.260W's were actually delivered is unknown, but deliveries started in 1977 or 1978. During the delivery, problems appeared by a US embargo on avionics. Reportedly the US made avionics were replaced by French made, which gave delays in the delivery. In the late 1970's large numbers of SF.260's were parked on Vergiate awaiting delivery. The SF.260WL was intended for use by the Air Force Academy for pilot training, but was also used for ground support of army troops during the border war with Chad. Overall not much in known about the service life of the aircraft. The Libyan government supported friendly countries with arms, and a number of SF.260W's were handed over to air forces like: Burkino Faso; Burundi; Nicaragua; Uganda and may be others. In 1987 Chad reported to the United Nations the destruction of 8 F.260's and the capture of 9 others during its border war with Libya. Some of these secondhand Libyan aircraft may even found their way to the US market.

Alenia Aermacchi is to support refurbishment of 12 SF.260 primary trainers for the Libyan Air Force. The work will be carried out jointly by Alenia Aermacchi and Tripoli based Libyan Italian Advanced Technology. Alenia Aermacchi says the contract covers the overhaul of the airframe and systems of the SF.260 aircraft, including their propellers and engines. Work is to start late 2007 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2008.


Between four to six SF.260W's were received by the Fuerza Aerea Sandinista as support from Libya. They may have been used in the COIN role against the Contras and in the pilot training role. No further details known. Three SF.260s surfaced in the USA on the secondhand market, a fourth is slowly being rebuilt in Guatemala. No longer in service.


Despite an arms embargo, two batches of SF.260 aircraft were delivered in 1977. Because of the embargo several buying teams were travelling the world looking for suitable equipment. Through various routes 17 SF.260C and 14 SF.260W aircraft arrived. The former to be used in the training role, while the warriors were being used for light attack duties and escort of convoys. In 1984-85 a reportedly 8 SF.260W's were converted to SF.260TP standard by replacing the piston engine by a turboprop engine.


It was announced at the 1997 Paris Salon that the Air Force of Zimbabwe had ordered six F.260F aircraft, thus becoming the first operator of this new model. In June 1998 three F.260F's were seen test flying at the Aermacchi homebase of Venegono. All six should have been delivered in 1998. Little is known yet about their serials and construction numbers.


In the early 1970s an order was placed for 48 SF.260's divided between 32 SF.260M's and 16 SF.260W's. The first six SF.260's were delivered in May 1973, replacing the Beech T-34A Mentor with 100th Training Wing at airbase Fernando.

The 15th Strike Wing on airbase Sangley Point received the SF.260W Warrior as an addition to the North American T-28 Trojans. They were possibly used in combat against rebel forces in the south of the Philippines. But little is known about its service life. In the early 1980s, the surviving Warriors were disarmed and transferred to the training role with 100th TW. The Philippines Air Force signed with Agusta a contract for the delivery of 18 SF.260TP turboprops on December 31, 1991, replacing the SF.260M/W's in the training role. The first SF.260TP was noted in country on July 1, 1993.

Under "Project Layang" the air force plans to upgrade 18 SF.260M/W aircraft to the SF.260TP standard, by replacing the Lycoming piston engine with the Allison 250-B17D turboprop engine and newer avionics. The first upgraded SF.260 was delivered in 1996, no further upgraded SF.260's are reported yet.

The Philippines is to finalise a deal with Alenia Aermacchi for 18 new-build F.260E primary/basic trainers. Deliveries are expected to start in 2007 (?) and conclude during 2008.


Military Operators

Civil Operators

Out of some 860 SF-260s produced, around 180 have been sold to civil users. Most of these are in private hands, although at least three airlines, Alitalia, Sabena and British Midland Airways purchased the aircraft as a trainer for airliner pilots. Air Combat USA operates 9 SF-260's.

Specifications (SF-260C)

Data from {name of first source}

General characteristics

  • Crew: one, pilot
  • Capacity: two passengers
  • Length: 7.10 m (23 ft 4 in)
  • Wingspan: 8.35 m (27 ft 5 in)
  • Height: 2.41 m (7 ft 11 in)
  • Wing area: 10.1 m² (109 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 755 kg (1,664 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 1,102 kg (2,430 lb)
  • Powerplant:Lycoming O-540-E4A5, 195 kW (260 hp)


See also

Comparable aircraft

External links

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Published in July 2009.

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